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Oct 12 / Kimberly Kwee

Scary Monsters

Delivering three drawings to Jonesboro tomorrow. Excited about the way I am mounting works on paper. Looks good and allows me to keep making changes. That keeps me from getting depressed. I hate putting drawings under glass. I recognize the need to protect the drawings when they are exhibited. I just like the idea of not ever being finished with the paper more right now. So, this drawing is mounted to a board that I built up to about 3 inches on the back. I like the way it makes the drawing separate from the wall, like a canvas.


Oct 12 / Kimberly Kwee

Unfinished Sewing Project in Failures

10/31 UPDATE***The Nashville leg of the exhibition will be at Belmont University. The exhibitions I have seen on their site look really interestings. This won’t be until Fall 2014, so all work is going to come back home first. I have some images to post from the opening at Kresge Gallery. A link to the PDF catalog coming soon.

20131031-070645.jpgI love this picture! All the guys have the same posture and pose.


It has taken me weeks to bring myself to publish this post about the first installation of my Unfinished Sewing Project. I fell into a black hole of uncertainty and self-doubt in presenting this project, although I think it is the best thing I’ve probably ever done. It’s very different from work I’ve shared with an audience in the past and it’s new for me. Even with a lot of built-in emotional safety nets (the fact that I collaborated with friends and family, the theme of the exhibition, encouragement from everyone I talked to about the project, etc.) I still felt PANIC. This has all mellowed out now because I think the show looks great and the project looks great in it. That’s just the whole truth – and why it’s taken me awhile to get these images up. I’m so glad Mark came with to install because the photos I took were embarrassing. It was a little dark since the gallery was closed, so please excuse the fuzzy.









The spiky pillow was created by Karin Hodgin Jones. She received a kit with the instructions you see pinned to the pillow. Helen Jeu left those instruction in a baggie with the fabric Karin used to make the spikes and other details. I think Karin enjoyed getting this package of materials with ambiguous instructions. I think that joy is an important part of this project. I spoke about the difficulty I felt in the first 2-3 years after graduate school in the quick artist talk at the opening. I talked about how difficult it is to find a direction and to make work without the eyes and voices of other artists around me. I think this kind of collaboration is a viable strategy for generating work in those slow and paralyzed periods.

My original plan was to arrange the project as a mini-show inside a bigger show. I saw my role as a curator of this 12′ x 10′ space, and lucky for me, the actual curators of the show let me operate in that way. Both the curator and gallery director were very supportive. When I got into the gallery, I decided to use the wall as a drawing space. I had all these small fabric pieces I had made (really just small quilted collages), about 600 yo-yo circles, and two pieces that sort of stood on their own as individual works (the necklace Intentions of an Anonymous Quilter by Kristi Rae Wilson and the pillow by Karin). And a strange little bear. And a stack of cut fabric for visitors to make more yo-yos. Again, PANIC. I just had to start putting things together in a way that made sense to me and for the space. I don’t know if I would always want to present the project in this way, but it looked beautiful in this particular space because of the location of the entrance (to the right) and the height of the ceilings. When the show goes to Nashville, I think a more traditional presentation might make more sense.

The gallery director was great in letting me label the work on the wall in a very specific way. I was able to acknowledge everyone who contributed to the project as well as their specific contributions. Let me go ahead and send out a collective shout-out here, too.

From left to right in the wide shot of the wall:
Karin Hodgin Jones

I did the draped fabric things and I’ll explain those in a minute…

Intentions of an Anonymous Quilter (necklace)
Kristi Rae Wilson

I did the bear. Best thing ever…

The yo-yos! Terry Barnes, my lovely mother-in-law and the Tuccelli crew made about 200 of those things! Martha Webber, dear friend, did her fair share and added some of her own fabric from unfinished projects. I labeled the yo-yos with her handwritten notes which she included in the package she sent back to me. My fantastic work study student, Lauren Tidwell, brought me a grocery bag of them, like, two days after she got the fabric. I made SOME, but honestly, I had planned on finishing up the scraps that came back and not much came back! It was amazing. I had no idea I would get some many back from everyone. I shouldn’t have been surprised. I am well loved and supported. Finally, I was happy to pin up the teeny-tiny yo-yos that were actually made by Helen Jeu. Those are the ones I am pinning up last in a couple of the pics.

Back to those draped things. I have several incomplete garment patterns in the materials from Helen Jeu. The blue and pink fabric is part of a vest. I found the two front sides, but no back. They were still pinned to the freezer paper pattern and the note, “Cut 2 from quilted patchwork” was attached. I followed those instructions literally instead of trying to cut a back and make a wearable garment. Same thing for the shirt back. It occurs to me now that I could have tried to make them both into one garment, but I didn’t feel like that was right somehow. It did feel right to use them as collage surfaces.

I didn’t end up installing all of the smaller quilted collages I made in the course of the month I spent piecing things together that were specifically for the show. They didn’t have any instructions with them, so they seemed too different from everything else. I think they will make more sense to me later. I imagine they will end up becoming part of one thing, like a larger quilt or drawing.

I also didn’t end up installing Keeley Murray’s lovely embroidered apron. When I went back to my notes for From My Home to Yours, I realized I had composed her kit from my own unfinished materials and not Helen Jeu’s materials. So, I decided to save that piece for a time when I could showcase From My Home to Yours as separate project. And, I use the apron everyday. I would stain myself.

The show at Kresge will be up through the rest of October. It travels to a commercial gallery in Nashville in November. I’ll write more after that leg is complete. I am learning a lot from working in this way and I am really enjoying it. Thank you for reading.

Aug 14 / Kimberly Kwee

Tournament of Roses “War Queens”

From the 1946 Tournament of the Roses Pictorial:
Throughout the war many organizations “froze” titles, but not the Tournament of the RosesAssociation. Each December preceding the annual Tournament of Roses paraded ate it went through the process of electing a Queen…as a reminder to the world that the famous parade would one day be renewed. First of the war-time queens was Dolores Jean Brubach. she presided over a mythical parade on January 1, 1942. In 1943 the successful candidate was Mildred Miller. Naomi Riordan topped the loveliness of a beautiful group of competitors to gain the crown in 1944. Last of the “war queens” was pretty Mary Rutte.

I’ve drawn the pictures of the war queens for several years. Last summer I made a monotype screen print of one of those drawings and this past spring I finished a couple collage and mixed media drawings based on those photographs.





Aug 12 / Kimberly Kwee

UPDATE Unfinished Sewing

I’m about a month out from showing Unfinished Sewing at Kresge Gallery (Lyons College), so I wanted to make a post documenting my progress. The teacher in me wants to mention that this is really helpful to studio practice. I take pictures while I’m working, not just of the thing I’m making, but also of what is happening around the room. It’s a lesson I’ve been slow to learn it. I can’t say I realized it on my own. During a particularly dry spell my second year of grad school, one of favorite professors, Barbara Kendrick, was visiting my studio. As I bullshitted nervously about what I had intended to do, she calmly looked around my studio, and, without a hint of scolding or condescension, suggested, “You should really think about photographing the things in this room.” She meant that the little things I was messing around with when I didn’t know what to do with the “real” work was actually pretty interesting. That’s a very funny thing that happens in a studio, when one is pacing like a caged animal and has a need to make things.
So, I thought it might be fun to post some of those images from January 2006 before posting the new studio images. Thanks, again, Barbara.

Sewing batik to a lampshade for These Islands

Stuffed animal head turned inside out over resin bird figurine, painted with rubber

Embroidered figure that became my character Cloud

The full text, from a birthday card, “Hope you safe and sound with all my love, Oma”



Nest of pine needles displayed on shelves, later became part of All she wants to do is dance. Many of these things that were newborn little baby ideas from that studio are still populating my current studio and my drawings.
Okay, here’s some day one pics:





Day one started with a big clean-up. Every new project starts with cleaning and organizing my studio. Organizing is important because too little makes me frustrated when I can’t find something or there’s no clean space to work, but too much kind of stifles the way I sometimes put things together because they end of next to each other. So, I tend to “file” vertically, making little piles everywhere.
With this project, some of the “filing” was done for me by Helen Jeu. She had already created lots of small baggies of fabric scraps that she must have thought went together. Maybe each one was supposed to be a quilt square. I started, though, with a stack of pattern pieces that were too big for a baggie. There were two sides of a vest or robe pinned to a pattern she had drawn herself on freezer paper. It said’ “Cut 2 from Quilted Patchwork.” The other pieces of the pattern were either lost or were never drawn. I weighed trying to complete it with either one I made up, or a store-bought pattern. In the end, I decided to take it as it was and work with it like any other found image in a collage. I cut two pieces from the pattern and quilted it and patched it.
Boardwalk Empire fueled working through the first baggie. After I stitched together the first baggie, I decided to sew a little swatch of the fabric to a card and label it “Bag 1.” Then, I found where I had started cutting triangular wedges out of the fabric about a year ago and, lo and behold, there was another card inside with a swatch and a label, “Bag 1.” One of the false starts I had in completing this work. I’m very organized…and easily distracted.









May 1 / Kimberly Kwee

Unfinished Sewing Projects

Unfinished Sewing, Mrs. Helen Jeu began when I inherited unfinished sewing and craft projects from my aunt’s mother. Helen Jeu left behind over 70 years of quilting, embroidery, and knitting. She lived in Altheimer, Arkansas, a small town in Jefferson County, but came to this country from China.

Helen started labeling her various sewing projects when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She seemed to be leaving herself (or her family, perhaps) reminders for what she intended to make with particular pieces of fabric. Some of the notes are very cryptic:

Sew both side shoulder together

How would one wear that garment? Some of the notes are very beautiful:

All clean, press
No hole
Good for vest

I was inspired by a package I found that Helen’s sister Violet sent her. It had knitting patterns and materials. I started putting materials and instructions together into kits. I made sewing kits from Helen’s supplies for the “From My Home to Yours” participants. I tried to construct the kits in the same way that I make drawings.

Here’s a link to my old friend Keeley Murray’s craft blog. She received one of the “From My Home to Yours” kits that had Helen Jeu materials in it. So did my friend Kristi Rae Wilson, a jewelry artist in Houston, who has made some wonderful work from quilt scraps. Her work is often inspired by history and family relationships.

I really like the idea of finishing these projects incorrectly. It doesn’t really matter because new work will come from it.

A minimalist needle case. I used acetone to frost the case.

I used acetone to frost the case. A minimalist needle case.

Helen kept an empty velvet jewelry box.

Helen kept an empty velvet jewelry box.

I put an old photograph of two sisters inside the envelope for No. 39 crewel needles.

I put an old photograph of two sisters inside the envelope for No. 39 crewel needles.

I call this one "U Fit Into Me" from the Margaret Atwood poem because it includes hooks and eyes.

I call this one “U Fit Into Me” from the Margaret Atwood poem because it includes hooks and eyes.

I started putting crochet yo-yos and pom-poms on the wall.

I started putting crochet yo-yos and pom-poms on the wall.

Oct 6 / Kimberly Kwee

“Animalier” at Northwestern Oklahoma State


This little lamb will be included in Animalier: The Animal in Contemporary Art, an exhibition sponsored by the Studio Art Program at Northwestern Oklahoma State University.

“Believer” will be one of 32 works from 25 artists in 9 countries and 7 U.S. states represented in the show. Curator Brandice Guerra, Assistant Professor of Art and Director of Studio Art at the university received 127 works from 69 artists in 12 countries and 19 U.S. states. I’m pleased as punch.

Sep 6 / Kimberly Kwee

Drill Drawing Demo

I started drawing with an electric drill in graduate school. It was the one tool I brought with me from home and was a gift from my dad. I like to demo this for my students when we talk about line quality and sensitivity to changing our line by what we do with our bodies. I just thought I would post some pictures of my students practicing. I’m working on a large drill drawing in between the Rose Bowl pieces, which are small.







Sep 6 / Kimberly Kwee

The Queen and Her Court

About five years ago, I bought a catalog for the 1946 Tournament of the Roses at a flea market. I loved the quality of the blocky color printing and the strangeness of the floats. They had themes like “Victory in Flowers” and featured doves of peace breaking rose-covered swastikas. The faces of the crowds are in somber shades of gray, the spot color was saved for the floats. It all struck me as very funerary. I am in love with the faces of the War Queens, selected in the years of the Tournament’s slumber, smiling in victory as they claim their titles. The Queen and Her Court are posed on a terraced float covered in maroon and white roses. They could be enthroned in the midst of a cemetery. A mysterious man lurks to the right of them. A woman and her daughter are holding hands nearby. It is the same feeling as in the pictures of the parade; there is a disconnect between the participants and the audience. I think that impulse to cover our wounds with roses is very important and deeply American. These are the ideas I’m exploring in this current set of drawings.



Jul 29 / Kimberly Kwee

PTC Teaching Demo: Making a Silkscreen Monotype

This technique was taught to me by Mariah Johnson. Mariah is a painter and the director of Porch Projects in Washington, DC.

The technique is a great bridge between painting, drawing, and printmaking. Both Mariah and I like the look of prints, but we need to make images in a direct way. I also love the fact that each print is unique and special. It’s a less technical way of producing a printed image.


Silkscreen: A print made from a stencil stabilized by a fabric mesh screen.
Monotype: A one-off print made from a hand-painted or hand-drawn stencil.

Making a Stencil
Lightly sketch your design in pencil on the inside of the screen.

1. Using a stiff brush, paint screen filler onto screen in areas that are to remain white.

Screen filler: A thick paint-like fluid that blocks out parts of the screen; made by Speedball.

2. Let the screen filler dry completely.

3. Draw directly onto the backside of your screen, the side of the screen that is flush to the wooden frame, with some type of water-soluble media. This is the design we will transfer to the paper.

Water-soluble media: pigment that will dissolve or loosen in water. Neocolor crayons, made by Caran d’Ache, are richly pigmented and water-soluble. I also used water-soluble graphite for this demonstration. Gouache, or opaque watercolor paint, although water-soluble, does not work with this technique.

Making a Print
1. Register, or line-up, your paper with the design on the screen. Mark the position of the paper on the table if necessary.

2. Use a squeegee to coat the entire screen with the water-soluble transparent base. This is the flood coat. Let it sit for a few minutes so that the drawing is rewetted.

3. Pull a print: Grip the wooden handle of the squeegee with both hands. Hold it slightly angled in toward your body. Press down with firm, even pressure and pull it down the inside of the screen from top to bottom. It takes some practice to pull with the right amount of pressure and speed.

4. Lift the screen, peeling the paper slowly away from it.

5. See what happened! Every monotype print is unique.

6. Hang the print up to dry.

7. Pull as many ghost prints as you can. You can continue to draw or print on these ghost images. To continue printing, shore up and register your paper properly.

The Test Run:











I adjusted a couple of things after printing 6 prints from the “Fresh Feesh” design. One, I removed the tape and opted for screen filler, as I direct you in the instructions. The transparent base wets and releases the tape’s adhesive. No good. So, I traced the outline of my drawing from tracing paper to the screen painted around it with screen filler. This will keep the paper clean. I made my new design 10 inches total. This way, it is about two inches narrower than my squeegee. I have soft tissue injuries to my wrists which kept me from really bearing down hard enough to prevent low spots of the upper corners. A narrower design made it much easier to pull the print. I also added some foam core under the paper to help it make contact with the screen.

The pics below show me preparing the screen for the demo. The drawing is of my mom as the 1946 Queen of the Tournament of the Roses. I’m obsessed with a bad off-set printed catalog from the 1946 Rose Bowl.



Jul 7 / Kimberly Kwee

Living Martha Stewart Living: Flag Day

In celebration of Flag Day, I decided to create a flag for The Year of Living Collaboratively Campus. I used a remnant of one of my Islands that I had already stitched down to medium weight canvas. I knew I wanted it to be like the flags that I see outside my neighbor’s homes. They usually change them out with each season or holiday, but I wanted this flag serve as a welcome mat for the front of the house. I also wanted it to make Karin and Jimi and, hopefully, future residents laugh.

What I will say about trying to sew a joke is that you spend so much more time with it than when you are just letting stuff fall out of your mouth. About one hour in, doubt crept in. I kept sewing, hoping that I might finish before my hosts fell asleep.

The finished product is in honor of The Year of Living Collaboratively’s resident cat Kisu. It serves as a gentle reminder.